UK & World News
FBI Infiltrates Paedophile Websites With Malware
The FBI has infiltrated websites featuring child abuse images to place malware on the computers of web users who visit them, it has emerged.
The bureau has been experimenting with "drive-by downloads" in an attempt to unmask paedophiles using anonymous web browser Tor, court documents show.
As a result of Operation Torpedo, 14 alleged users of a site called Pedoboard have been arrested and face trial.
The FBI has been using malware - hidden software which can send information back to its creator - since 2002, but it has only recently started to use it on such a large scale.
However, the suspects' defence lawyers have urged the trial court in Omaha, Nebraska, to throw out the malware evidence on the grounds that the bureau concealed its use beyond the period allowed in the search warrant.
Some defendants did not learn about the hack until a year after the fact.
Defence lawyer Joseph Gross Jr said: "Normally someone who is subject to a search warrant is told virtually immediately.
"What I think you have here is an egregious violation of the fourth amendment."
Tor is free, open-source software which lets you surf the web anonymously, by bouncing traffic through a series of computers.
It supports special hidden websites with addresses ending in .onion, with theoretically untraceable physical locations.
While it can be used for nefarious purposes - such as distributing child abuse images - it is also useful for activists living in oppressive regimes, for example.
Last month, Russia offered the equivalent of £65,000 to any individual or company which could devise a reliable way of decrypting data sent using the browser.